Updated April 6, 2020
COVID-19 (coronavirus) is affecting people of all ages and now exists in more than 175 countries in the world, including every state in the US. What area will be affected next or need to close their borders? Where are our biggest challenges? How many more people will contract COVID-19? Are we in a position to medically care for all? When will students be able to go back to school? When will people be able to go back to their offices, or for some, step out into their communities?
These are just some of the questions that we at AFS-USA ask every day. And, as much as we want answers, we are living in times where there are more questions than answers, and this includes information from some of the foremost experts we have throughout the world. Those of us who are in the care of others are doing our very best to make the best decisions we can, by calling on the most accurate information we have, and using our collective experience to guide us.
When the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, AFS International, the governing body of 50+ AFS organizations worldwide, made the difficult but necessary decision to end programs early and return students to their families in their home countries. It was not a decision the organization took lightly, but it was a decision we believe to be in the best interests of students, especially in the face of continued uncertainty.
AFS is committed to returning students in a manner that is thoughtful, deliberate and cautious. Some students have already returned, and others are in the process of returning or waiting for word of their upcoming travel. Some students will be unable to return right now due to travel and logistical challenges. While these students wait to return to their families, AFS-USA will continue to provide all support and services from staff and volunteers in the communities where students live, including insurance, until students can travel. In every case, we are supporting students through this process when transportation is feasible. We are doing the best that we can to get students home.
And we will continue to work around-the-clock until all students are, once again, home with their families.